What to Look for in a Home Appraisal Company
Looking for a Home Appraisal Company in Victoria, BC? Here’s a Quick Guide to Help You Decide Who to Hire
If you own your own home, there are four main reasons why you might be looking to hire a property appraisal company instead of going through the banks:
- you are planning on selling your property and want to know how much it’s worth;
- you are looking into refinancing your home and want an idea of its current value;
- you need to start dividing assets amongst family members or a former spouse; or
- you want a second opinion to compare with what a previous company gave you.
In any of these situations, a property appraisal company can help, and it will be up to you to hire the right company for the job. (This is unlike when you’re buying a home and paying for a property appraisal to satisfy the bank lending you your mortgage – in this case the bank has a list of companies they work with).
So, when it’s up to you, how do you know what property appraisal company to hire? Start with our quick guide to choosing a home appraisal company. Here are some of the key things to look for:
Knowledge of Your Property Type
Before anything else, be sure you’re only considering real estate appraisal companies that specialize in your property type. Some companies specialize in commercial buildings, while others specialize strictly in residential properties.
Depending on where you live, there may be companies that further specialize in condos or heritage buildings over detached homes, so double-check you’re looking at companies that can meet your needs in this regard.
For example, if you are looking for an appraisal on two acres of farmland, someone specializing in Victoria’s downtown core might not be a good fit. If you are planning to list a three-bedroom house with a suite in Oak Bay, look for appraisal companies with expertise in that kind of property.
Knowledge of Your Neighbourhood
Confirm the appraiser’s knowledge of your specific neighbourhood. The appraisal company you hire should have a complete understanding of the local region, including its facilities, amenities, property types, and recent home sales and prices.
They should know about potential rezoning and redevelopment set to take place in the neighbourhood, as well as any future investments taking place or ongoing efforts to make the neighbourhood even more desirable.
Is the neighbourhood set to densify in the next 10 years? Is a major transportation upgrade destined to arrive? Are new schools and hospitals being built nearby? These are all things a knowledgeable property appraiser will be able to tell you, and factor into their appraisal report.
Longevity in the Industry
A good indicator of whether a company has some or all of the attributes listed above is how long they have been in the industry for. A company with decades of experience speaks to their reputation and knowledge of the market. D. Fritz Appraisals is one of Victoria’s longest standing appraisal firms, with more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of the real estate industry in Victoria, BC. We would be happy to show you how we got there!
Word of Mouth Recommendations
If your neighbours, colleagues, friends, or family have recently gone through the home appraisal process, ask them who they used and if they would recommend their services.
Likewise, use things like online reviews to help you decide on which company will be best at meeting your home appraisal needs. Online reviews often highlight things like the company’s level of customer service and timeliness of correspondence – two major factors when timing is of the essence in the real estate game.
Credentials & Education
Ask an appraisal company about their staff’s education, certifications, and amount of insurance liability. Look for a company whose appraisers are certified with the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) and professionally insured for liability according to the Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (CUSPAP).
Level of Experience
Ideally the property appraiser you hire will have extensive industry experience, having worked as a mortgage broker, real estate agent, or otherwise in the past. It’s encouraged to evaluate the appraiser’s experience level and ask them for a short biography (often provided on the company’s website in the About Us section) and a list of two or three references (testimonials) from current or previous clients.
Level of Support
Confirm with the appraisal company what is included in their services, so you know exactly what you are paying for in the final report. If you have questions about the appraisal process along the way, and care to ask the appraiser for tips on how to improve the valuation, find out beforehand if this level of service is to be expected. Also make sure a copy of their report is included in the services you are paying for! This is especially important if this is your first time undergoing the process of having your property assessed.
Once you’re satisfied with all the above, the last step is asking the appraiser about their appraisal methodology. Find out what steps they take to determine the value of your home. Most appraisers start with their in-house database of recent sales and market trends, checking to see if prices are rising or falling. Next they supplement that data with data from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and then do a site visit of the property.
Up Next: Home Inspections vs. Home Appraisals
The property appraisers at D. Fritz Appraisals would be happy to provide you with more details on our real estate appraisal services in the Victoria region of Vancouver Island. Contact us today to learn more. We specialize in real estate appraisals for all situations, such mortgage refinancing, new construction, division of assets, and estates.